Each week, I'll try to convince myself I could give it all up and pick games for a living. And, each week, I'll learn that such a decision would eventually lead to me living in a storm drain in front of a bus station.
Last Week: 4-4 (.500)
Season: 40-36-1 (.519)
Arkansas at South Carolina (-14)
Whenever I see this game on the schedule, my mind fires up the replay of Darren McFadden moving at a different speed than South Carolina's defense. In fact, if you went inside my mind, that replay would look something like this:
And then that reminds me of this one:
And then I spend 20 minutes watching highlights of a player that didn't play for my team, yet my man-crush on him knew no bounds. Seriously, look at that run against LSU. I mean, LOOK AT IT. Those are LSU safeties he made look like they were wearing cement roller skates.
You should also know that Casey Dick, the Arkansas starting quarterback in the LSU game, went 3-17 for 29 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. McFadden, in addition to 182 yards rushing and 2 TDs, went 2-2 for 33 yards. Houston Nutt, just, UGH. Let's all be thankful he coaches none of our teams now.
South Carolina to cover.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Florida (-26.5)
Part of the JP double telecast, first dumped on the viewing public sometime around 2006, I believe. I have no intention of finding out where Dave Neal and Andre Ware will be, but, even though they make my mute button a part of every telecast, I hope they get the Missouri/Tennessee game because they do seem like nice guys and shouldn't be subjected to Florida football.
Former directional school and the points.
Missouri at Tennessee (-3)
For a game featuring a pair of teams that are a combined 1-10 in the SEC, there's a sliver of intrigue here. First, if Derek Dooley loses, he and Joker Phillips will have something in common to discuss when they meet in a few weeks. And second, Missouri has been poor to exceptionally poor on offense, but Tennessee's defense has been the Missouri offense of defenses. Or maybe the Auburn offense of defenses. Whatever.
So, when two things that are both bad at what they do collide, WHO WILL HAVE THE UPPER HAND? Can Sal Sunseri propel the Missouri offense like 20 spots in national rankings? Or will the Missouri offense boost the Tennessee defense by a spot or two (a defense that bad can't move up too much)?
I HAVE NO IDEA. I'll take the Missouri and the points because their defense is a solid average defense and Tennessee at this point seems more likely to do a multitude of dumb things to help them lose or only win by two.
Texas A&M at Alabama (-13.5)
Texas A&M's only chance in this game is if Johnny Manziel can throw with accuracy into tight coverage down the field. LSU, Florida, and Ole Miss made him try and he wasn't very good at it (69-112 for 640 yards, 5.7 yards/attempt, 1 TD, 5 INTs). LSU and Florida made things worse for A&M by taking away his ability to run, which Alabama certainly has the talent to do.
However, if Texas A&M can get one of its running backs going, then they don't need Manziel to get yards on his own and passing will be much easier. And, as always, they have to avoid massive amounts of turnovers (11 against LSU and Ole Miss) because Alabama shows no mercy when teams give it the ball back, unlike Ole Miss who took ZERO advantage of so many gifts.
I'm sticking to my stubborn belief that until I see Manziel beat a defense that has the speed and talent to keep him from running freely through open spaces, and forces him to throw accurately into coverage, I shalln't side with him. Alabama to cover.
Georgia (-15) at Auburn
DO YOU LIKE MONEY? DO YOU LIKE FREE MONEY? HERE'S YOUR CHANCE TO PAY FOR LITERALLY EVERYTHING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
From details about a private security firm helping Gene Chizik to enforce curfews (was Trooper Taylor busy or something?) to this afternoon's rumor that Chizik is done, what a motivated Auburn team we're gonna see on Saturday. Not that it matters. Even a motivated Auburn team couldn't help here. Georgia to cover.
Mississippi State at LSU (-14.5)
Mississippi State's chance, and only chance, hinges on a hefty LSU hangover (team, not fans, of course the fans will be hung- wait, no, check that, game is at 6; hangovers will be gone, DRUNK will be many hours deep at that point) and Zach Mettenberger turning back into pre-Alabama Zach Mettenberger. If the light has indeed gone on for Mettenberger, State will find itself sprinting towards its third straight SEC loss and a robust 4-15 record against the SEC West under Dan Mullen.
State must find some kind of a running game because if Tyler Russell has to stand back there and throw 30+ times, then he will be dead and no one wants that. And on defense, they have to take their chances with single coverage on the outside and hope Mettenberger is old Mettenberger, because there's no other way to limit LSU's ability to run.
Much like Ole Miss visiting Tuscaloosa, State has historically been awful in Baton Rouge, and while I don't think we'll see a third straight skull-dragging of State, I don't think they've got enough to keep within a possession or two. LSU to cover.
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss (-3)
The battle for Shreveport/Memphis/Birmingham pecking order rights is upon us. LET'S DO THIS.
Luckily for Ole Miss, Vanderbilt isn't anything special against the run (68th), which means we won't be forced to lean on Bo Wallace so much. And that's good because Vandy's pass defense is 3rd, but a good deal of that can be attributed to teams taking advantage of an average-ish run defense.
Listening to Freeze's comments after the Georgia game and practice this week, he's seemed a little irritated Ole Miss has struggled in the running game, especially against a bad Arkansas defense. It made me convince myself that he's going to really push the running game this week because he knows a solo Bo Wallace, totally healthy or not, isn't going to win games.
Of course, Vanderbilt knows this too so it's up to the offensive line, as well as Wallace to make the right reads on option plays. THE TENSION IS PALPABLE.
Offensively for Vanderbilt, they aren't a Georgia or even an Arkansas (84th in total offense and 82nd in scoring), but they don't have to be a machine of destruction when their defense doesn't allow many points (14th). Jordan Rodgers isn't especially scary, but I DO NOT LIKE the matchups on the outside in Chris Boyd and Jordan Matthews, especially Matthews.
Ole Miss should hold up fairly well against Vanderbilt's running game, but Boyd and Matthews terrify me. They're big and Matthews has had great success against three pretty good defenses in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida (24 receptions for 397 yards, 132 yds/game, 2 TDs).
Ole Miss' secondary is small, not very good, and has had people hurt and playing out of position. If they can limit Matthews and Boyd on third and longs, ESPECIALLY THIRD AND LONGS, as well as keep them from huge chunks of yards, the defense should do enough to give the offense a chance to win it.
I realize that's a BIG IF, but I've got a nasty case of SHREVEPORT/MEMPHIS/BIRMINGHAM FEVER, so I throw myself on the side of Ole Miss covering and Gray getting his monies together to recklessly spend in one of these three fine** cities.
*Doubling your paycheck IFFY at best.